A myHT Fortress

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Triduum: Tri-what?!!!

Triduum. What in the world is that?! Triduum is an ancient Latin word that the Church uses even today. It means, “three days,” and refers to the holy days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

So what’s the big deal? Why talk about them together. Each day has its own focus to remember and observe, right? Well, yes, but at the same time, it is wrapped up in the one event of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection!

On Holy Thursday (also known as Maundy Thursday), we hear of Jesus’ Last Supper with the apostles. He gathers them in the Upper Room and institutes the Sacrament of the Altar. After this monumental event, He endures the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

On Good Friday, we hear of Jesus before Pilate, and the crucifixion itself. The Suffering Servant gives Himself as the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world. And after a few excruciating hours, the Sacred Head now wounded is laid in a tomb.

At the end of Holy Saturday, after the rest in the tomb, the Lord of Life bursts from the sepulcher! Death cannot hold Him; it has been crushed and defeated. So as we enter the darkness of Saturday night, we have the paradox of celebrating the Light of the World, risen on Sunday! This becomes the first celebration of the Resurrection for parishes all over the earth!

But aren’t these things each separate events? Yes and no. Our minds are shaped by Western civilization – many of us with German backgrounds at that – so our thinking has been shaped by specific categories and order. Sometimes we even divide and categorize when we don’t need to.

The name Triduum reminds us that even when we have these separate events in Jesus saving work for us, they all come together in His amazing salvation! There can be no crucifixion without a resurrection. Nor can there be a resurrection without a crucifixion! There can be no Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper without the Lamb of God sacrificed to take away the sins of the world. Yet the offering of His Body and Blood is the purpose of the cross all along!

It all works together. Even liturgically. On Thursday and Friday, there is no blessing at the conclusion of the services. On Friday and Saturday, there is no invocation at the beginning, since the beginning was in Thursday’s Divine Service. That is because the Church sees this as one service, recessing briefly for the night, and gathering again to continue.

The Church desires that all her children would come together and receive Christ’s Word and Sacraments at all of these times, experiencing them as one big event. That’s how the apostles saw it. That’s how Jesus experienced it. Dear baptized friends, join us as we gather for the great Three Days, celebrating and thanking God for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ!

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